This time of year, some things automatically go on the to do list. Stock up on school supplies? Check. Sign up for after school activities? Check. Back to school clothes? Check. You might also want to consider these five organizing tips to reduce the stress in your family’s routine, for the new school year.
1. Central Calendar
I see these in many homes, however I also see ways to make them more effective. For starters, keep only one calendar. It avoids frustration and confusion. The location is really important. The kitchen usually makes the most sense because everyone in the family passes through it every morning. This may require rethinking the location of a more decorative hanging. If the calendar is often removed from the wall, go with sturdy hooks over flimsy pins. Finally, don’t go nuts with the color-coding, just one color per child. Kids are more likely to respond to an event when they see their color.
Choose just one area that is used most frequently as an entryway, whether it is a mudroom, garage, or kitchen. Dedicate it to family items that exit and reenter the home on a daily basis. Include sturdy hooks for backpacks and coats. Different height hooks may help keep it straight for different height kids. If you’re getting a bench for putting shoes and boots on, the variety with open space underneath for shoes, is likely to get better usage than the variety with drawers underneath. This is a very critical area, so relocate any non-essentials like plants and other décor.
3. Action files
School papers, like all paper, can be overwhelming. So, remember to always start by simply deciding if you are looking at a paper that you need to make a point of acting on or if it is a paper you just need to find reliably. Announcements, permission slips, and forms to fill out, all require action, so don’t file them away where they will be forgotten. There are many organizing products that can help with this, but the goal is to make your action items, vertical, visible, and minimal.
4. Findable Files
Items to find reliably, on the other hand, should not be taking up prime real estate on your desk. That compromises the minimal goal for action files. Instead, things like school handbooks, directories, and class lists should go either on a shelf or a file drawer. It is important that your file drawer is user-friendly. The first step to accomplishing this, is unclogging your file drawer of files that don’t need to be there. This would include archives, owners manuals and keepsakes.
5. Artwork Plan
Speaking of keepsakes, I often see parents struggle with the decision of what artwork to keep. My advice. Give yourself a break. Decisions are easier when seasoned with time. You know that every school year comes with a lot of artwork, so be prepared. Get an 18 x 24 paper portfolio for each child, from an art supply store. A file drawer won’t cut it. Some drawings and paintings may be honored on the refrigerator for a while, otherwise they go in the portfolio for now. At the end of the semester or school year, take a look at all the artwork from that portfolio. Seeing it all in context and seeing the quantity, makes it A LOT easier to separate the masterpieces from the scribbles.
Back to school season is a great time for a fresh start. With each new school year, comes new organizing challenges. Update these five areas and your family will be rewarded with the feeling of “I know EXACTLY where that goes!”